Reconnecting with things from the past, personal and collective, is part of the human experience. Every thing we are today is the result of every thing from before.  We live going forward while we love looking back.  Without a time machine to take us there, we use the next best thing, the memory machine of our minds, constantly switched on.  Hear a song, see a photograph, smell something in the air and suddenly somehow you are there again.  It’s sweet and it’s sad and it’s overwhelming. 

For me, the journey of Driving Jersey and Here’s The Story, has always been a trip in my own memory machine.  When I moved back to Jersey, after living in New York City for a decade, it was this traveling through my past that inspired the series.  There is something so personally retrospective in so many things we’ve done on the series.  Whether it was connecting directly to something from my past or an interest in things that I always had a curiosity about, a great deal of the stories were about understanding and appreciating things from long ago. 

When it is possible to connect in a tangible, physical way with yesterday, it is even better.   The Dollar Parlor, or as it is called today, The Parlor (Beach Haven) opened in 1967.  It’s a fun version of the classic five-and-dime, known for its quirky personality and merchandise, retro toys and pranks.  When I was a kid my parents would take us there after visiting the amusement park. We were allowed to pick one thing out, a hand buzzer, hand cuffs, a hand gun, fake cigarettes, was a highlight for us and a memory that kept me coming back even as I became a parent. 

The store’s owner, Michall Maloney worked at the place when he was kid and now he too has kids of his own.  Over the years Michall and I have traded stories back and forth about The Parlor and old Beach Haven.  I learned about the history of the place, and of the wild and wacky exploits of Michall and his crew.  And I marveled to hear others always sharing their own memories and offering their own appreciation for the place and its long, joyful presence in the community.  On the occasion of the store’s 50th anniversary, I decided to take a trip to the past and revisited The Parlor, with the cameras, so that others might experience what we all considered magical...either that or it was just an excellent excuse for me to relive my childhood.

Still Crazy After All These Years also includes a profile of Denny Daniels, the creator and curator of the Museum of Interesting Things, (New York City).  I first met Denny in 2006 in Atlantic City.  He was presenting an exhibit of some of the artifacts and antiquities from his collection, including, but not  limited to, an endless pile of forgotten inventions and playthings from the past, curiosities really, that once were common things...pieces from the past that are a direct line to common things today.  Indeed, the over-arching theme of Denny’s museum is that connect the dots idea.  He will often say, as he gazes around a table full of technologies of yesterday, “all of these things combined probably could make an iPhone.”  It’s an interesting pitch, but what I found more interesting was just learning what each thing did and why it was a necessity of the time and how well it was designed and manufactured.  The most interesting thing in Denny’s Museum of Interesting Things though is Denny himself.  He lives in a doorman apartment building in New York’s Greenwich Village, a fairly large space in term’s of city dwelling, but every room, every wall, every shelf and ledge and counter is covered by pieces of the museum.  In order to move about the place you must carefully follow a path.  It’s a maze of a museum in a place Denny calls home.  Oh, he’d like to get a space in New York to actually house his museum, or he says he would, but spend some time with him in his museum home, watch him move around the place and listen to him talk lovingly about every single thing there and you realize that things, old things, these things he has are more than just inanimate objects in a museum.  They are intimate objects in his life.  He sings their significance like a proud father, a father of invention perhaps.